The competition of electron and ion heating during magnetic reconnection (2015)

by | Apr 8, 2015 | magnetic reconnection

C.C. Haggerty, M.A. Shay, J.F. Drake, T.D. Phan, C.T. McHugh

Abstract: The physical processes that control the partition of released magnetic energy between electrons and ions during reconnection is explored through particle‐in‐cell simulations and analytical techniques. We demonstrate that the development of a large‐scale parallel electric field and its associated potential controls the relative heating of electrons and ions. The potential develops to restrain heated exhaust electrons and enhances their heating by confining electrons in the region where magnetic energy is released. Simultaneously, the potential slows ions entering the exhaust below the Alfvénic speed expected from the traditional counterstreaming picture of ion heating. Unexpectedly, the magnitude of the potential and therefore the relative partition of energy between electrons and ions is not a constant but rather depends on the upstream parameters and specifically the upstream electron normalized temperature (electron beta). These findings suggest that the fraction of magnetic energy converted into the total thermal energy may be independent of upstream parameters.

Read the full text on Arxiv: